MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - A Murrells Inlet woman says she was speared by a stingray in the arm and the leg during a fishing trip with her husband.
Karin Brown says she's dealt with a number of health issues since, and now she wants to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else.
On July 9, Brown says she was at the beach with her husband, who was fishing, when he unexpectedly caught a stingray. Brown's husband advised her to leave the stingray alone, but wanting a closer look, she didn't heed the warning.
When she leaned over to inspect the stingray, the sea creature stuck her in the leg with its barb. Shocked, Brown immediately tried to remove the barb, but the stingray stuck her again, penetrating through her forearm.
"It went into my arm, and came out nicely on the other side," Brown recalls. Although it's a simple explanation now, the procedure to remove the barb was anything but.
EMS workers rushed Brown to the hospital to deal with the wounds on her leg and remove the barb lodged in her arm. Doctors removed the barb surgically, and sent Brown home the next day.
Even without a piece of the animal stuck in her arm, Brown soon back in the hospital with swollen hands and infections. Brown's leg became so infected, doctors hooked Karin up to a special machine that draws infection out of the wound 24 hours a day to keep it clean.
"I just kind of wrap my little cord around and walk around," Brown says. "I get some funny looks walking around the new Marshall's."
Brown says the bulky device and long tube aren't exactly a fashion statement, but it does keep the infection from getting worse.
Ripley's Aquarium marine biologist Tim Handsell says he's not surprised at Brown's injuries.
Handsell says sting rays in general are not aggressive, but will lash out with their sharp barbs if they feel threatened. He adds the barbs can cause tissue damage, problems with infection, and excruciating pain. He says it's best to leave rays alone if you can, and if one does end up on your fishing line, it may be safer to just cut the line and get a new hook.
It's a lesson Brown learned the hard way. Brown says next time, she won't ignore her husband's advice.
"[My husband] said my scar will teach me," Brown laughs. "Every time I look at my scar, it'll tell me to listen to my husband."
Brown says she hasn't been able to work in nearly a month because of her injuries. She says if the wounds don't heal like they're supposed to in the next couple weeks, she'll be forced to receive skin grafts to repair the damage.